June 09, 2009
Low Carb High Plant Protein Diet Good For Heart And Weight

A low carb, high plant protein diet took off about 4 kilograms or 8.8 pounds in 4 weeks.

Overweight individuals who ate a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diet high in plant-based proteins for four weeks lost weight and experienced improvements in blood cholesterol levels and other heart disease risk factors, according to a report in the June 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. A high-carbohydrate, low-fat vegetarian diet also resulted in weight loss but without the additional cardiovascular benefits.

The fact that this diet also improved blood lipids is the notable result here. Jenkins is researching diets that are closer to those eaten by our evolutionary ancestors. He's also incorporating research results about dietary components to try to come up with a heart healthier way to take off and keep off the weight.

"There is a dilemma relating to the proportion and source of fat, protein and carbohydrate that constitutes the optimal weight loss and cholesterol-lowering diet," the authors write as background information in the article. Newer dietary approaches for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease emphasize increased fruit and vegetable intake and reduced meat consumption.

However, low-carbohydrate diets with increased meat consumption have also been promoted for body weight reduction and the prevention and treatment of diabetes and coronary heart disease. These diets have been shown to be effective in inducing weight loss, reducing insulin resistance, lowering blood fats known as triglycerides and raising high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, or "good" cholesterol) levels, but have tended to increase low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, or "bad" cholesterol) levels. "This lack of a benefit for LDL-C control is a major disadvantage in using this dietary strategy in those already at increased risk of coronary heart disease," the authors write.

Eat more plant matter. But choose lower carb plant matter.

David J.A. Jenkins, M.D., of St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues tested the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet high in vegetable proteins from gluten, soy, nuts, fruits, vegetables, cereals and vegetable oils among overweight men and women with high LDL cholesterol levels. A total of 25 participants were randomly assigned to consume this diet—the "Eco-Atkins" diet—for four weeks, while an additional 25 participants ate a control diet that was high-carbohydrate, lacto-ovo vegetarian and based on low-fat dairy and whole grain products. Study food was provided to participants at 60 percent of their estimated calorie requirements.

This is similar to a previous diet Jenkins reported on in 2003. See my post Ape Man Diet Lowers Cholesterol And Inflammation Marker.

Strive to eat more fruits and vegetables. What to fill up your stomach without a lot of calories? 1 pound of cauliflower is only about 100 calories. How about a cauliflower diet? Eat a head of cauliflower before every meal and then see what else you can eat with the remaining room in your stomach. You heard it here first.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 June 09 04:08 AM  Aging Diet Heart Studies

The Undiscovered Jew said at June 9, 2009 8:05 AM:


You've advocated reducing obesity by using genetic engineering to rewire our metabolism.

A simpler way to reduce obesity would be to genetically alter the carb content of high carb crops such as potatoes and wheat.

I would like to eat low carb french fries and low carb butter rolls.

It would be a heck of a lot less involved than gene therapy.

Mthson said at June 9, 2009 10:25 AM:

I wonder if consuming the low-carb vegetables mixed in with the denser meal components - instead of consuming them sequentially (one after the other) - spreads out the digestive system's absorption of the denser elements.

Would that help even out the blood levels of the products of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, avoiding spikes?

Micha Elyi said at June 14, 2009 3:26 PM:

Eeew! Ersatz food only increases cravings for the real thing. Low carb french fries and low carb butter rolls my left foot!

Mike said at December 3, 2010 8:40 AM:

I'm having a hard time introducing fruits and vegetable to my wife as she is more in the junk site. I started eating low carb meals as I stumbled on the recipes on 101lowcarbmeals.com but I really want my family to begin to eat it too! Any tips on how to encourage my family to try healthy, appropriate foods?

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